WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is extending its review of Whirlpool Corp.'s proposed $1.8-billion acquisition of rival Maytag Corp. to March 30, the companies said Monday.
The appliance makers said they "have agreed not to close the transaction" before that date.
"We believe this additional time will be sufficient for the review to be completed, and we are confident that the acquisition will close rapidly upon completion of the review," Ralph F. Hake, Maytag's chief executive, said in a statement.
Justice Department lawyers who are considering a challenge to the deal had been expected to make a recommendation within weeks, two sources close to the matter said Monday.
Antitrust concerns are centered on the market for laundry appliances. Whirlpool and Maytag together would control a significant portion of the market for washers and clothes dryers.
The Justice Department's antitrust division has sought sworn statements from competitors and retailers about how the combination of the rivals would affect competition, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The depositions signal that the department is making preparations in the event it decides to go to court to try to stop the proposed deal, which would form the world's largest appliance maker.
One source noted that it was standard procedure for the antitrust division to seek depositions in a case that raises serious competition questions.
Maytag's shareholders approved Whirlpool's $21-a-share offer late last year. Maytag makes Hoover vacuums and Jenn-Air and Amana appliances. Whirlpool's brands include KitchenAid and Roper.
Shares of Maytag rose 40 cents Monday to $16.61. Whirlpool fell $1.45 to $85.83.
Reuters and Associated Press were used in compiling this report.